7 Lame Excuses For Not Budgeting: Debunked
People love to talk about the idea of financial freedom. It’s as dreamy and wonderful as it sounds. But when we start talking about the steps to get there and how I firmly believe that budgeting is the very first thing you have to do to regain control of your finances....people start pouring out the excuses. They give all these excuses for why budgeting just doesn’t work for them. But in all honesty, anyone with an income can create a budget right now. There are no excuses. The excuses you think you have are only fear trying to hold you back from freedom.
You have to believe that budgeting will work for you. Budgeting is more about self discipline than anything else. Here are 7 of the most common excuses I hear and how you can allow the truth to help you push through.
Excuse: I’m too busy to budget.
Truth: You make time for the things that are important to you.
Stop wearing busy like a badge of honor. Most of us feel like 24 hours a day isn’t enough time but we have to find ways to prioritize what’s important to us so that those things get done. I think you’ll find that you naturally make time for the things that are important to you, no matter how busy you are. Your financial future should be important to you, so set aside time to work on it. Once you get a budget started, you can create a monthly budget in 15 minutes and tracking expenses will only take a few minutes per day at most. You don’t have time to put off saving for retirement. You don’t have time to work hard only to be forced to throw extra money at interest payments. You do have time for getting your finances in control for the sake of your family and your future.
Excuse: I don’t need a written budget, I can keep track of it all in my head.
Truth: You can’t remember everything or keep track of it in your head.
Ever kept your grocery list in your head only to go back a day later because you forgot something? How about that important event or appointment you missed because the calendar you keep in your head didn’t remind you? And don’t even get me started with all the things I’ve forgotten from the running to-do list in my head. It’s just not feasible to keep track of important things in your head. You need to commit to a monthly written budget (written on paper or kept in an app like EveryDollar). If you made a budget and haven’t looked at it in months, you’re not really budgeting. Write your budget and then track your expenses on paper or in an app, not in your head.
Excuse: I always forget to budget for something like car taxes.
Truth: You have to learn to plan well and that means thinking ahead.
When creating a budget you have to consider the regular budget items and the irregular ones too. Some expenses are going to only occur seasonally, annually, or semi-annually. These are not surprise expenses, they’re just expenses that need to be thought about beforehand and planned for. Write out a list of all the big irregular expenses you can think of for the year such as insurance premiums, car registration fees, school tuition, Christmas, etc. Also include the irregular expenses that aren’t definite but could mess you up if left unplanned. This might include categories like car repairs, medical expenses, vet bills, etc. Having this list will help you plan out your budget each month as well as planning for the big expenses that will take a few months to save for.
Excuse: Something always comes up unexpected that I didn’t budget for.
Truth: You need a miscellaneous budget item line to use as a catch all for the unexpected expenses.
It’s all about planning and being prepared. Living debt free means you have to be prepared and budgeting is no different. Unexpected expenses are going to come up like when you get invited to a birthday party you didn’t expect, or your sunglasses break, or surprise school pictures come up. To prevent these surprises from ruining your budget, you need to create a miscellaneous budget item line where you put away a little extra money for the unexpected. Make sure to only touch this money when something unexpected comes, not just because you already spent all the eating out budget and you want pizza.
Excuse: My spouse isn’t on board with budgeting.
Truth: You need to have an open and understanding conversation about your finances.
It’s true that if your spouse isn’t on board with a budget, it’s going to be extremely difficult if not impossible. You and your spouse should be on the same page financially in order to win in your marriage and your finances. This means you’re going to need to have an open conversation with your spouse about finances. Make sure to never criticize them or tell them how much they suck with money. Be calm, understanding, and open-minded. Talk about financial goals and explain why it’s important to you. Listen to your spouse and their feelings. If something makes them feel uncomfortable about budgeting, work through it together. And remember timing is everything, so don’t bring it up on date night or on the way to dinner with the in-laws. Wait until you both have time to give it your full attention.
Excuse: Budgeting doesn’t let me have any fun!
Truth: Budgeting gives you permission to spend money guilt free while achieving your goals.
You may think that budgeting means living on rice and beans, staying home all the time, and never having any fun but that’s simply not true. Being on a budget gives you permission to spend money guilt free while still working towards your financial goals. Living on a budget means you can be prepared to pay cash for everything and not have to take out debt for vacations, concerts, or whatever fun things are on your to-do list. You choose what you budget for so make sure to include some fun, even if you’re working to get out of debt.
Related: Why You Need A Budget
Excuse: Budgeting means I have to change my lifestyle.
Truth: That excuse is true. But it means your priorities are wrong. Don’t spend your entire life paying off debt for a lifestyle you can’t truly afford.
Your priorities should be focused on your family and your future. Prepare for retirement, prepare to take care of your family. That should take priority over living a lifestyle you can’t afford because you care about other people’s perception of you. If you can’t pay cash for something, you can’t afford it. You have to learn to live below your means and that only comes when you have a plan and are creating and sticking to a budget every month. You may have to make sacrifices and you may have to change your lifestyle. But there is freedom when you stop allowing yourself to feel falsely validated by the “stuff” in your life. With a budget you can choose to get in control of your finances and think about money in a healthy way rather than allowing your money to control you and having an unhealthy obsession with it.
You just have to jump in and make a budget work. It’s not hard math, it just requires more self discipline than anything else. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You have the tools you need to create a budget and make it work. And now I’ve debunked all your excuses. There’s nothing holding you back from getting in control of your finances and taking that first step towards financial freedom.